Going digital: Painter 7 lets artists do away with
by Alan Zisman (c) 2002 First published
in Business in Vancouver
, Issue #660 June 18-24,2002 High Tech Office column
Last week's column looked
at the new version of Adobe
's Photoshop, the industry-standard software for, as the name suggests,
digital photos and scans. Among its new features are painting tools,
to make digital art look less like digital art and more like paint or
charcoal on paper or canvas.
When it comes to creating images on-screen that look
were done with real-world tools, though, Photoshop's new features don't
close to matching those found in Painter 7 (about $750, $300
upgrade), the latest version of a program that has passed through many
and is now released under Corel
's new Procreate (get
it?) brand name.
From its beginnings, Painter has ignored
to enhance photos, in favour of tools that simulate the actions of an
ever-increasing range of brushes and other artists' tools applied on to
simulated textures of paper and canvas. The new version offers newly
realistic watercolour brushes and very nifty Liquid Ink.
Also improved are the text tools and scripting
it possible to automate repeated strokes, simplifying, for example,
The new version also offers increased support for Photoshop-formatted
and previews .jpg files prior to saving, making it easier to select an
amount of compression, balancing small file size against loss of
Painting realistically on-screen won't come easy,
provides a dizzying array of palettes and brushes, each with a lot of
The previous version streamlined the user-interface, making the wealth
choices look a little less overwhelming. The updated watercolour
for example, give the user options to control how digital "water"
evaporates, and dries. Luckily, you can ignore most of these options
just select a watercolour brush, choose a colour, and start to paint.
Behind the scenes, the software is doing its best to
the physics and chemistry that affect what happens when paint hits
The new version makes digital ink spread differently depending on the
of the grain of the digital paper, for example. As a result of all this
the software needs reasonably hefty hardware. For reasonable
double the recommendations on the side of the box (they call for 64 MB
memory and a 200 MHz processor).
Although you can paint with your mouse on screen,
Photoshop's painting features, really benefit from a graphics tablet
Most users find it more natural to draw with a
pens than with a mouse. As well, like using a paintbrush or felt pen,
brush strokes are pressure-sensitive; pressing down harder with the
pen spreads more colour on screen.
s small but affordable ($150) Graphire 2 graphics tablet or the
bigger and better Intuos 2 (prices start at $300) both include
versions of Photoshop and Painter to get users up and running.
Like the new Photoshop, the new version of Painter
comes in Windows and Mac versions, and like the new Photoshop, the Mac
version offers support for both the classic Mac operating system and
the new Mac OS X. But unlike Photoshop, Painter's OS X version needs
fine-tuning; it runs noticeably slower than the OS 9 version included
on the same CD. The OS X version is stable, but it's just too slow for
most users to find it worthwhile.
Windows and classic Mac-OS artists and
artist-wannabes will find
the new versions worthwhile, however.
According to Procreate, artist Warren Manser
for costumes for the recently released Spiderman film using Painter 7.
You'll still need talent to produce art, but Painter makes it easier
than ever for any of us to use a computer to produce digital images
that don't look like they were made on a computer.